Category Archives: culture

Boneless Chicken In Shahi Gravy

shahi chicken

Serves: 3 Persons
Time Taken: 90 minutes
Ingredients:
300 grams Boneless Chicken
150 grams Oil
4 medium onions minced
1 inch piece of Ginger
5 TBS Fresh Milk Malai
2 heaping TSP chili powder
1 heaping TSP coriander powder
1/2 TSP Fried Cumin Powder
2 TSP (not heaping) salt
100 grams fresh Curd
25 numbers of Cashew nuts
1/4 TSP Cardamom powder
1 TBS Kewra water
Juice of Fresh 1/2 piece of Lemon
1 pinch of safron diluted in warm water.
Method:
Fry the onions till lightly brown in oil in a cooker.
Add red chili powder, coriander powder and salt with some water and cook till oil separates.
Add curd and cook till masala takes a deep red color and oil separates again.
Add boneless chicken with some water.
Cook on low flame for 30 min.
Make a thin paste of cashew nuts and ginger in a mixer and add to the cooker.
Cook for another 30 min.
Add cardamom powder, kewra water,lemon juice and safron water to the cooker and cook for 10 min. and take off the gas.
Serve with hot chapaties or boiled rice.

 

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Do you take a camera with you on your holiday?

A Lomo Camera La Sardina

A Lomo Camera La Sardina

Do you take a camera with you on your holiday?

This would seem like a no brainer question to most of us. Cameras are every where.The mobiles cameras get better & better. The digital cameras get cheaper & cheaper. Film cameras are quite cheap too. And who can resist the urge to own one? And what holiday is complete without pictures from the trip gracing your mantlepiece & your Facebook page. Of course you need to take a camera with you on your holiday. Only piece of obvious advice though is to enjoy the holiday first & record it later. Take in the whole picture & not just what you see thru the viewfinder.

What gear to take with you on a trip?

If you are not a professional photographer a simple point & shoot digital camera with spare memory cards, a USB drive, ready to use rechargeable battery, battery charger & flash light with its batteries will do. You will also need a waterproof bag which can be tied around the waist or which you can hang from your shoulder or neck. This way  you can keep your hands free while you operate the camera & keep all the photography stuff is in one place. If you are going abroad do not forget to take along a power adapter too for the battery charger.

If you are planing to take pics by a mobile phone then it would be a good idea to open an account with websites like FaceBook.com, Twitter.com & Flickr.com to share the pics as & when you click them. You will also need an internet account on your mobile phone. If you are a twitter fiend you already know you can attach pics to your status updates. You should also familiarize yourself with the FAQs of the website. You do want everything to work properly once you are on the holiday.

What pictures should you take?

As taking digital pictures is relatively cheaper give flight to your imagination. Click what ever looks interesting to you, including you!

Please make sure that you have the necessary permissions from the relevant authorities to take pictures & that you have paid the relevant fees by buying a ticket for the camera. Do not assume that it is OK to take pictures wherever you are. Make sure by asking.

When you get back home, copy the pictures to your computer hard drive make a back up on a DVD or a CD & have a holiday album/ holiday photo book made professionally by somebody like  snapfish.in & gift a copy to all who went with you on the trip. If you shared your pics from a mobile on facebook.com or filckr.com, snapfish.in can print these pics too.

Unique Restaurants Of Jaipur

Steam-The Lounge, At The Rambagh Palace

Steam-The Lounge, At The Rambagh Palace

Today I read an article about 10 unusual restaurants of India. A facebook  friend had shared the link. Being on facebook has its uses, you know! Jaipur did not feature in the list. So naturally I had to make a list of restaurants unique to Jaipur.

1.The Dining Hall, Swarn Mahal, at the Rambah Palace, with its painted ceiling

is unique.

2. Steam, the Lounge Bar, at the Rambagh Palace, with restored Stem Engine & Victorian Station is very unique.

3. Polo Bar, at the Rambagh Palace, is unique.

4.Revolving restaurant at the OM Tower on M.I.Road is unique.

5.Chokhi Dhani, an recreated  ethic village restaurant is unique.

6.Pink Pepper, a restaurant in a bus which goes across Jaipur while the diners eat.

7. Durg Cafeteria at Nahargarh Fort is unique with stunning view of the city of Jaipur.

8. The Dinning Rooms in the RTDC’s Royal Trains are unique.

9. 1135 AD, A Resturant on the ramparts of the fort of Amber is unique.

10. The ancient India Coffee House at the Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) & on the M.I.Road are unique for being hot bed of intellectualism in Jaipur.

And

11. Tapri, the tea house.

These are all I can think of. If you think I have missed a Restaurant please feel free to add it to the comments.

A Recipe To Cook Raan At Home

Raan

Cooked leg piece-Raan

How To Cook A Raan At Home

Serves 4 persons

Marinade

Ginger Paste 2 Tea Spoons Heaping

Garlic Paste  2 Tea Spoons Heaping

Curd 400 gms Strained ( with as little water in it as possible)

Rum 1 large peg

Kachri Powder 2 Tea Spoons

2 Tea Spoons Red Chillie Powder

Salt ½ Tea Spoon or to taste

Masala

Ghee 150 gms

Oil     150 gms

Saabut Garam Masala ( 4 Doda, 1 ½ inch Dal chini, 5 Big Tej Patta, 20 Kali Mirch,

10 Cloves, 4 Small Ilaichi)

Oninons 4 large minced

Red  chillie powder 2 tea spoons heaping ( or to taste)

Corriender Powder 2 tea spoons heaping( or same proportion as the red chillies)

Turmeric ½ Tea Spoon

Salt -One Tea Spoon (Not heaping) or to taste.

Sour Curd 200 gms ( or lesser in proportion to the red chillies as this much curd is needed to take the bite out of the red chillies)

Garlic Paste 2 Tea Spoons

Ginger Paste 2 Tea Spoons

2 green chillies minced

1 leg piece Mutton ( 750 gms. to 1 Kg)

Wash the leg piece and prick it with knife thoroughly. Mix the marinade ingredients & apply them to the raan. Put it in your fridge overnight.

When preparing the mixture for the marinade make sure that it is not watery. You should  get rid of the water in the curd by tying it in a thin muslin cloth.

Heat the oil in a cooker till it is smoking & add the ghee. Add all the Saabut Gram Masala fry in oil for on low heat for a moment. Add the onions & fry the onions till they are brown.

Add red chillies, dhania, turmeric & salt with some water & fry till oil sepatrates.

While adding the curd ensure to stir the mixture on high flame till the masala comes to a boil. Keep the flame on low heat and keep frying the curry till it takes the color of deep oily red chillies.

Add the Garlic paste and the ginger paste & green chillies to the curry and cook some more.

Pre heat the oven at 300 Degrees and assemble the marinated leg piece and the masala in the oven tray & put it the oven.

Once the oil starts bubbling set the temperature to 150 degrees and cook till done. If you wish you can turn the leg piece a couple of times as the oil will settle at the bottom of the tray & may not cover the leg piece.

It can also be cooked in a Cooker on a slow fire.

Serve with hot  chapaties.

Viratnagar

Beejak Ki Pahari,Viratnagar

Viratnagar is about 86 km from Jaipur on the Jaipur-Shahpura-Alwar route. You have to turn for Viratnagar at Shahpura on Jaipur Delhi Highway.

But why Viratnagar? Who goes to Viratnagar? You might ask.

A little time invested in visiting the sights this town has to offer will pay rich dividends, you will see.

Viratnagar  has been a witness to a lot of history being made. According to the excavations done around this town people have been living here since the prehistoric times.

Accorading to the Mahabharat,King Virat founded the city Viratnagar, and the Pandavs spent thirteen years of ‘Agyatvas’(exile) here. This is the city which saw much wheeling & dealing to broker peace to avoid the great war of Mahabharat. Ancient travelers have mentioned their visits to the city. The river Banganga flows near by, a fair is held here every year.

Beejak Ki Pahari
Beejak Ki Pahari,Viratnagar

This serene site is in the lap of the Aravali mountain range. On a ridge under a rock shaped like a Cannon there is an ancient Hanuman temple.
Hanuman Temple, Beejak Ki Pahari,Viratnagar
And there are remains of a Budhist Monastry & a Budhist Stupa shrine from the Mauryan times. This site was found in work done in 1935-36. This is a protected site of ASI.
Budhist Ruins on The Beejak Ki Pahari,Viratnagar

In recent development work done here a cement shelter has been built at the foot of the hillock.

Ganesh Mandir and the Local Museum. The museum has some relics of great importance and antiquity from the Ashokan period.
Ganesh Temple above the museum,Viratnagar

Viratnagar

A stepwell on the way to Panch Malla Mahal badly in need of restoration.

A Stepwell,Viratnagar

Panch Mala Mahal. Raja Man Singh had this imposing structure made.  Emperor Akbar used to stay here on his way to the Ajmer shrine.

Panch Mala Mahal,Viratnagar

I think he has seen a lot of tourists pass by this palace.

Panch Mala Mahal,Viratnagar

The paintings on the domes of the chatries of the palace.

Fresco in the Panch Mala Mahal,Viratnagar

Shri Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Nasiyan.

Shri Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Nasiyan,Viratnagar

Shri Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Nasiyan, Mughal Gate,Viratnagar

Shri Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Nasiyan, Mughal Gate,Viratnagar

Maybe the ghost who walks was here! This is his mark.

The Phantom's Cave

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A Visit To Kaila Devi Mela

You must have heard the English idiom ‘God is in the details’.

It is very relevant when you are traveling in India off the beaten track by a RSRTC bus & are not a seasoned traveler of this vast land of ours. I had to go to Kaila Devi for darshan yesterday so I packed a toothbrush and hopped onto the first Roadways bus leaving Jaipur Sindhi Camp Bus stand in the general direction of Karauli & Kaila Devi village.

The bus headed out on to the NH11(Jaipur-Agra Highway). All went well till the Mehndipur Balaji Mor ( turning) from there on the bus took a badly carpeted single track  route to Hindaun City, through numerous minor villages, which at one point even crossed right through the Aravali range. I reached Hindaun City in the evening. But the direct bus to Kaila Devi was jam packed so I took the bus to Karauli & from Karauli I took a bus to the Kaila Devi Mela ground. The journey that started at 3.30 pm ended at midnight in Kaila Devi Mela Ground. The good thing was the influx of people to the Kaila Devi was such that there was no dearth of buses to Karauli or the mela ground. An important lesson learned was to ask about the duration of the journey also besides the category of the bus and the route taken by the bus.

If you can talk to your fellow passengers for nuggets of practical advice, nothing like it. You can be sure that they have been on this route more often than you. Rightly though, these days you are advised not to talk to your fellow passengers. They might cause you bodily or financial harm. You can check out sites like INDIAMIKE before leaving home for nuggets of information & practical advice.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi village is situated some 180km from Jaipur and about 25km from Karauli on the banks of Kalisil river. In 1114 AD Mahatama Kedargiri established the idols of Kailadevi  here. It is a shaktipeeth.

After a short nap and shower I was on my way to the Kaila Devi Temple for the Mangla Arti darshan after 4 o’clock in the morning. The whole world was awake with one mission only. On the way up on both sides of the way to the temple the shops were selling numerous articles people offer to the deity like doras, sindoor, suhagan ka shringar-green dhani churis, sweet meats as prasad, books of bhajans & history of Kaila Devi, CDs of bhajans and food stuffs, snacks other things which would attract the devotees. When I  reach near the temple the temple guards form the devotees into a giant ‘Q’ which is moving ahead at a brisk pace. We reach the ‘garbh grah’ have darshan and are already on our way out. My world is at peace.

Navratras are always busy here. They want as many people as practically possible to have darshan. The sky is lighting up as I reach the guesthouse.

I have some tea and go up to the temple again at 7 o’clock. I want to take some pictures. If it is possible it is even more busy now. People are lighting up diyas and buying prasad and waiting their turn for darshan. I take some pictures and am back at the guesthouse where I have some breakfast and am back at the bus stand & book a ticket on a bus going direct to Jaipur.

One of our fellow devotees is an American with excellent hindi, who is on his way to Mehndipur Balaji. He is visiting all places where Balaji is worshiped.

After a long journey we are back in Jaipur at 6 o’clock.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Lastly I must say that the mela administration Trust is doing  good work of a difficult job in  managing this yearly influx of humanity at the deity’s feet. The security was tight & helpful to the devotees. The RSRTC bus service was excellent, plentiful & timely.

Details About Kaila Devi

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Got To Have Gota!

Recently my wife went shopping in the Johri Bazaar and came home with some spools & a couple of cards of  gota ribbons. When I asked her what she would do with them she said that they were for a saree. But she had no idea which saree she would use them on. Between you & me I doubt if she even has a saree that could be trimmed with gota ribbon. That is the appeal & the use of gota in Rajasthan.
Gota

To put it simply gota is lace made with silver or gold colored metal or plastic threads.

In Rajasthan, gota trimmed clothes for men, women & children are  used on all festive & ceremonial  occasions and marriages &  marriages proposals, celebration of the birth of the latest child of the family or even  the last journey to the funeral pyre of the lady of the house. Even the idols of our deity are dressed with costumes trimmed & decorated with various types of gota. Our holy books are treasured in swatches hemmed with gota. Gota work is even used in making enchanting wall hangings.
Gota

Gota work or lappe-ka-kaam has seen the days when pure silver & pure gold threads were used to make these ribbons to trim the clothes of Royalty & people of Rajasthan. These, gold & silver gota, ribbons were  in use till about as recently as 1970s. But due to the high prices these metals command now a days, plastic and other metal thread ribbons are in vogue today. The metals with which they are made may have changed but their use has not lessened or their demand decreased in these modern times among the Rajasthani women.

Gota

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A Recipe To Cook ‘Khichari’

Chawal & Hari moong Dal

Rice & Green Moong Lentil

To Serve: 1  OR 2 Persons

Time Taken: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Green Moon Dal( This is moong lentils with the green covering unlike the yellow moong dal): 4 heaping Table Spoons.

Rice: 4 heaping Table Spoons.

Turmeric Powder: 1/4 Tea Spoon

Salt: To Taste

Water: 400 ml.

Some Sugar & a Little Clarified Butter and Milk  OR  200 gm Fresh Curd. As per choice.

Mix the lentil and rice together and clean and wash the mixture in water and let it soak in water for 10-15 minutes.

Throw away the water used to soak the lentils & rice mixture and put the mixture in a pressure cooker. Add about 400 ml of water with the salt and  the turmeric powder.

Pressure cook at high flame till the cooker whistles once then lower the flame to simmer for 10 minutes. Switch off the flame after 10 minutes. Let the cooker cool down on its own for 5-10 minutes.

The ‘khichari’ is ready to be served.

It can be eaten with salt as it is Or with milk and sugar and clarified butter Or with fresh curd and salt or sugar Or with only sugar.

It is very light on the stomach and is generally made when somebody is recuperating from an illness.

The 50:50 ratio of the rice and green moong dal can be varied according to a persons  choice.

If you are in a hurry and do not have the time or inclination to soak the rice and green moong dal mixture in water before pressure cooking the mixture  just wash the rice and dal  thoroughly in water  and add 100 ml extra water to the mixture and cook for the stipulated time.

Khichari

Khichari

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Photos Of Some Common Birds Found In The Parks & Gardens Of Jaipur.

OWL

Spotted Owlet (Athene brama indica)

Recently a cousin of mine,Madhav Rathore, an experienced, enthusiastic birder, bought a  Canon EOS 7D with a huge telephoto lens. When I kidded him about buying   such an expensive  camera he insisted on taking me birding in  the Central Park one evening. That is when the use of the camera became apparent to me.  He was shooting birds perched at the top of tallest of trees where as I was limited to shooting squirrels and birds sitting in front of me in the grass.

But I got hooked to birding that day. I am no expert birder but by my own experience it is far easier to watch birds today. I take a picture of the whichever  feathered friend which dares to cross my path and later on I put an ID to it with the help of a couple of Books. Where the books fail The Net comes  to help. This method helps to engrave the names of the birds in the mind too. So the next time I come across the same bird I  say smugly,” That is Brahminy Mayna you know !” and so on…

One thing you will notice is the exotic names of the birds.  I can bet you powers that be who gave names to the birds put more thought in naming the birds than in naming their newborn sons. They have names like starling,Black  Drongo,Grebe,darter etc. And each bird has its own charm. Own uniqueness which will hold you in thrall.

I have been to the Central Park many times before the day we went birding but I  did not notice the birds before that day. Oh I could see the pigeons and the doves but the other beauties were hidden behind a muslin curtain as it were. Somebody had to  point the birds out to me. Do you know  usually we see two types of Doves in Jaipur one is Laughing Dove and the other is the Eurasian Collared Dove. And that the house sparrow may be endangered soon enough! Who would have thought of it!

I have been posting photos I take around Jaipur to www.flickr.com for some time now. If you see the stats on the photos you will realize that people like photos of flowers and plants more than photos of birds. I do not know why that is so but we have to be more aware of the beauty surrounding us in the form of birds more. Birds forage in the early morning but people go for their morning walk just then too. So the birds perch themselves on the highest branches of the trees. I suppose they come down later. I do not know.There are some birds which do not mind people at all and are all over the grass in the Park.

Now a days in every home there is a computer and a digital camera. All you have to do is to buy a beginners guide to birding. Be sure to buy one which has photos of the birds & not sketches. You can graduate to the books with sketches  later.

Now find some time for yourself and the birds and go for a walk in the nearest Park or garden. Happy Birding.

I am posting  some photos of the Birds I found.

Brahminy Myna/Starling

Red-vented Bulbul

Black-Rumped Flameback

Black Drongo

Bank Myna

Asian Pied Starling (Pied Myna) - Adult

Green Bee Eater

Asian Koel Male

Rufous Treepie

Partridge

Purple Sun bird female

Eurasian Golden Oriole

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A Labour of Love!

The HallShree Hanuman ji

According to the information passed down over the years  the  Pujari ji of  The Hanuman Temple in Dhuleshwar Garden,C-Scheme, believes it to be some 500 years old. He says he   remembers it as a big chabutra with a neem tree, a room for the idol and a kitchen. Under the soothing  shadow of a huge peepul tree and the grace of the Gods worshiped here  and the patronage of the devotees  this temple has grown into a thing of beauty and not just only  a place of worship. The building has been newly done up with marble flooring and marble platform around the idols. Idols are surrounded by carved marble Jalis. Besides all this a  local painter, a Hanuman devotee,  has painted the whole building of the Temple with very pleasing and intricate murals. There are  gold, red, green, white, pink and blue colors making intricate flowers and petals on the roof, pillars, windows of the temple. The artist has also depicted in wall paintings scenes from Ramayan.   There is also a jhoomar  in the center of the ceiling illuminating the whole room and the lovingly done up art work. Idols of Shri Ram, Sita Ji and Lakshman Ji and the Idols of Shivji  and Parvati ji and a Shiv ling are also there in the Temple.

Drawings-1

Drawings-2

Painted coulmns

Design in the Floor

Window

Painted ceiling

Some other Hanuman Temples of note in Jaipur are:

The Chitthi wale Hanuman Ji  on Sardar Patel Marg, Opposite the PMG office.

Chandpole wale Hanumanji, in the Chandpole Bazar.

There are Two Temples of Hanumanji opposite each other in the entrance to the  Johri Bazar .

There is the Kala Hanuman Mandir Near the now defunct Ram Praksh Cinema Hall.

There is another very old Hanuman Mandir opposite the Ganesh Mandir on Moti Doongri near Birla Mandir.

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